Jan. 1, 2013
Wisconsin (8-5, Big Ten) vs. Stanford (11-2, Pac-12)
Wisconsin key player: RB Montee Ball
Ball is the FBS record holder for career touchdowns, and he has been on an incredible run after a tough start to the season. Ball has four 100-yard games in a row, including games with 198, 191 and 202 yards. The latter came in the Big Ten Championship Game, and he had three touchdowns in that big win. Ball will be instrumental for the Badgers, because quarterback Curt Phillips is just a game manager. In Wisconsin's last two wins, he is 10 of 15 for 112 yards — and those are his combined stats in those two games.
Stanford key player: QB Kevin Hogan
Stanford's midseason quarterback change has worked out great. The Cardinal turned to Hogan, an imposing freshman at 6-4 and 224 pounds who has led Stanford to five straight wins as a starter. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 155 yards, and rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown against UCLA on Friday, claiming MVP honors in the Pac-12 Championship Game. He has played well in huge games at Oregon, at UCLA with a division championship on the line and in the conference championship game, which is impressive considering at the end of October he had one passing attempt in his college career.
An early look at the matchup: This looks like a mismatch at first glance. Wisconsin is the first team ever to go to the Rose Bowl with five losses. Stanford might be playing in the national title game had it not been on the wrong end of a controversial call in overtime against Notre Dame. But Wisconsin's dominant performance in the Big Ten Championship Game might be a sign of a team coming alive late in the season. The Badgers had little to play for in the final two regular-season games, and lost in overtime to Ohio State and Penn State. Then they came out with a lot of gadget plays against Nebraska, and rushed for an astonishing 539 yards — the most a Cornhuskers team has ever allowed — in a 70-31 win. Stanford will have a few weeks to prepare for Wisconsin's new looks on offense, and is a great rushing defense. Stanford is third in FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 87.7 yards per game and 2.8 yards per attempt. That is a huge edge against a one-dimensional Wisconsin offense. One thing to keep in mind: Stanford has been in many close games and won seven games decided by a touchdown or less. Wisconsin lost all three overtime games it played and has a 2-5 record in games decided by a touchdown or less this season, with the wins coming at home against Northern Iowa and Utah State.
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